Special Section LGBTQ Activism

Timeline: LGBTQ Activism in Seattle

[Timeline] [Brief History]  [Oral Histories]  [Organizations]  [Photos and Documents]

   by Kevin McKenna

This timeline was commissioned by and appears here courtesy of the Center for the Study of the Pacific Northwest.

Year Washington State Events National Events
1851 Arthur Denny colonizing party lands at Alki Point
1873 Comstock Laws passed, prohibiting circulation of “obscene” materials
1893 WA State unanimously passes anti-sodomy law; Great Northern transcontinental railroad line reaches Seattle
1897 Klondike gold rush brings predominantly male population to Seattle; local economy booms
1898 First known drag performance in Seattle by nationally recognized female impersonator Edward Stewart
1903 First recorded raid of a gay bathhouse occurs in New York City, resulting in several sodomy convictions
1909 Sodomy code made more specific
1910 Emma Goldman speaks out in favor of homosexual rights
1914 WA voters pass Prohibition via Initiative 3
1919 Eighteenth Amendment prohibits sale and production of alcohol
1924 First homosexual rights organization, Society for Human Rights, founded in Chicago
1933 Joseph Bellotti opens the Casino Pool Hall, a dance club allowing same-sex dancing National Prohibition ends
1934 Bellotti opens the Double Header, which may be the oldest continuously operating gay bar in the country, above the Casino
1941-45 World War II creates opportunities for military men and working women with homosexual tendencies to meet and form communities in several cities, most notably New York and San Francisco
1946 The Garden of Allah founded
1947 Dr. Walter Freeman arrives at Western State Hospital, Steilacoom, performing 13 lobotomies  
1950 Purging of homosexuals from the federal government begins the “Lavender Scare;” Homophile organization, Mattachine Society, founded in Los Angeles
1955 Lesbian organization Daughters of Bilitis formed in San Francisco
1950s Lesbian bars first established in Seattle
1958 US Supreme Court rules in One, Inc. v. Olesen that the First Amendment protected the right of One, Inc. to publish ONE:  The Homosexual Magazine
1961 Illinois overturns its sodomy law, the first U.S. state to do so
1965 Seattle Aquarian Church founder Keith Rhineheart convicted of sodomy
1960s Massive growth of gay bars in Seattle as a result of police payoff system
1966 MacIver Wells exposes police payoff system 
1967 First gay organization in Seattle, the Dorian Society founded; Peter Wichern on the cover of Seattle magazine Homophile League founded at Columbia University as first gay organization on a college campus
1969 The Dorian Society opens a de facto gay community center in a house on Capitol Hill; Seattle Counseling Services for Sexual Minorities begins in the Dorian house Stonewall Riots in New York City, memorialized as birth of the Gay Liberation Movement despite earlier riots in response to police raids in San Francisco (1965) and Los Angeles (1967)
1970 First Gay Pride celebrations take place, commemorating the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots
1971 First Gay Community Center opens near Pioneer Square; Lesbian Resource Center opens in the University District; Paul Barwick and John Singer apply for marriage license
1973 City Council passes an employment nondiscrimination ordinance protecting homosexuals
1974 Seattle Gay News begins publication American Psychological Association removes homosexuality from its list of "mental disorders."
1975 City Council passes a housing nondiscrimination ordinance protecting homosexuals
1976 State sodomy law repealed
1977 Mayor Wes Uhlman declares first city-recognized “Gay Pride Week,” Catholic Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen endorses Uhlman’s declaration Miami-Dade County residents overturn county’s ordinance protecting gay people from housing discrimination; Harvey Milk elected to San Francisco Board of Supervisors
1978 Initiative 13 defeated; Washington Supreme Court decides Madeleine Isaacson and Sandra Schuster can maintain custody of their children, the first successful lesbian mothers' custody case in the United States. Harvey Milk assassinated; Briggs Initiative fails in California, along with Initiative 13 in Seattle
1979 Seattle Gay Clinic founded Approximately 100,000 march in First March on Washington D.C for Gay and Lesbian Rights
1980 Greater Seattle Business Association forms to encourage the growth of gay businesses; Violence against gay men prevalent San Francisco resident Ken Horne first known AIDS patient in the U.S.; Human Rights Campaign founded; Democratic Party adopts a gay rights platform
1982 First AIDS case reported in King County; Northwest AIDS Foundation and Chicken Soup Brigade founded; Greater Seattle Business Association declares itself organizer of Pride Parade, angering more politically oriented members of the community Wisconsin first state to ban discrimination on the basis of sexuality; Laguna Beach, CA elects first openly gay mayor
1983 Seattle allocates funds for AIDS research and services; St. James Cathedral holds mass for attendees of national Dignity (organization of gay Catholics) Conference, Vatican places Seattle Archdiocese under observation Massachusetts Representative Gerry Studds becomes the first openly gay member of Congress
1984 Seattle City Council passes ordinance prohibiting harassment of sexual minorities. Berkeley, CA becomes the first city to recognize domestic partners of municipal employees.
1985 King County adds sexual minorities as a protected class against employment discrimination; Mayor Charles Royer establishes the Mayor's Lesbian and Gay Task Force.
1986 Northwest AIDS Foundation begins safe sex campaign; "Marital status" added to Seattle's Fair Employment Practices Ordinance. US Supreme Court upholds Georgia sodomy law in Bowers v. Hardwick
1987 Cal Anderson appointed state representative from Seattle’s 43rd District, becoming first openly gay member of the Washington Legislature; People of Color Against AIDS Network (POCAAN) founded; King County forbids discrimination against HIV-positive county employees. AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACTUP) formed in New York City; Second March on Washington for Gay and Lesbian Rights features AIDS Memorial Quilt
1989 Seattle chapter of ACTUP founded; Seattle Department of Human Rights finds that cohabitating, unmarried partners must receive benefits based on the 1986 amendment to the Fair Employment Practices Ordinance; City Council approves the creation of the Seattle Commission for Lesbians and Gays.
1990 Health benefits extended to domestic partners of municipal employees; Initiative 35, which would have overturned health benefits for domestic partners, fails. Queer theory matures in academia alongside radical activists; Queer Nation founded
1991 Sherry Harris elected to City Council, first openly lesbian African-American to win elected office in the US; Lambert House established as a drop-in center for gay youth, first of its kind in the U.S.
1992 Bailey/Boushay House opens as a residential care center for AIDS patients; Bisexual and Transgender added to Pride Parade (Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender Pride Parade/March and Freedom Rally); Entre Hermanos founded to promote AIDS awareness among Latino gays 
1993 Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell becomes the official policy of the U.S. military 
1994  City of Seattle begins a a domestic partnership registry for anyone residing in the city. 
1995 Cal Anderson dies of complications related to AIDS; King County defines "domestic partnership" in the County Code and extends benefits to partners of county employees.
1996 Defense of Marriage Act signed by President Clinton, banning homosexual couples from federal marriage benefits
1998 Matthew Shephard murdered in Laramie, Wyoming, prompting movement for hate crimes protection for LGBT people; Hawaii and Alaska become first states to explicitly ban same-sex marriage
1999 Seattle City Council adds gender identity to its nondiscrimination ordinances.
1999 California passes first statewide domestic partnership law
2000 Vermont passes first civil union law for gay couples
2003 Lincoln Park on Capitol Hill renamed Cal Anderson Park;  King County requires contractors with the county to provide benefits to domestic partners. US Supreme Court declares ban on sodomy unconstitutional, overturning Bowers v. Hardwick, in Lawrence v. Texas
2004 Massachusetts Supreme Court declares ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, making Massachusetts the first state to legalize same-sex marriage
2006 Gay rights bill passes the WA legislature; King County adds "gender identity" to its definition of "sexual minorities"; King County requires private employers in unincorporated King County to extend benefits to domestic partners.
2007 Domestic partnership for same-sex couples becomes legal in WA
2008 California Supreme Court makes California the second state to legalize same-sex marriage; Proposition 8 reversed the court’s decision 
2009 Matthew Shephard Act expands hate crimes protections to cover sexual orientation 
2010 Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repealed
2012 Referendum 74 passed in Nov. 6 elections, making same-sex marriage legal in Washington State; King County Council pledges support for statewide marriage equality
2013 California’s Proposition 8 overturned by the Supreme Court of the United States
2012 President Barack Obama endorses gay marriage 
2013 Seattle elects the first openly gay mayor, Ed Murray
2015   United States Supreme Court decided that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry by a 5-4 decision in Obergefell v. Hodges.

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